Grammar Error Correction
Grammar Correction Best Practices
The art and science of grammar correction has seismic implications on native and new speakers to English alike. The ability to communicate in a clear and cohesive fashion, both verbally and in writing, whilst using the proper syntax, punctuation, sentence structure and spelling is vital for the message to be clear. Further, it is seen as a sign of intelligence or lack thereof for someone to use the obviously wrong words and sentence structure while communicating in writing or via speech. While grammar and languages teachers are perhaps fighting a losing battle right now given the fairly sloppy nature of many people including supposed language professionals like writers and journalists, there are indeed some verifiable and known best practices that can and should be used to help combat the grammar failures that pervade the sphere of communication in the United States as well as around the world.
Grammar has become an endeavor that seems to have people on autopilot nowadays. This condition has become so engrained that it is common place for people to just rely on the spellcheckers in Microsoft Word of the "autocorrect" function of smartphones to save the proverbial day as it relates to whether something is said and spelled right. However, given the presence of homophones, homonyms and words that are quite similar in spelling, this is not the best idea and too much haste and disregard can lead to a butchered message even if the words are all technically spelled right. Reading any comment board on a website shows this problem in gritty detail as people will blatantly confuse their and they're, your and you're and so forth. However, it sometimes goes to the point where similar words are used interchangeably when they absolutely do not mean the same thing such as downgrade and degrade, loan and borrow and so on. There are some that perhaps try to speak at a higher level than their vocabularies allow. Regardless, it is something that leads to henpecking and references to "grammar Nazis" when more learned people, perhaps flustered about the perceived dumbing down of American or other speech patterns, decide to correct people on the spot even if the advice-giver is not a teacher and/or the forum is not a classroom of any sort (Schwenger).
There is another end to the spectrum of corrections and that would include people that take correction stylistics so far that they use fancy algorithms and other complex techniques to address grammar errors in speech of any form. However, even fancy approaches like this cannot negate the fact that practice, context and communicate itself is the best way to expand and hone one's grammar and other language skills. However, it is also asserted by many that zero tolerance and aggressive grammar rules are perhaps actually counterproductive in the long run. Part of the problem is that the people engaging in the errors often do not know they are making the errors unless or until they are corrected and this obviously would impede their ability to self-identify what they are doing wrong and self-correct their errors without the need for a high amount of teacher intervention. Even so, people learning a second language and its grammar structure seem to be benefit more from explicit error correction while people struggling with their first language have more problems as they do not have a reference language in their past to compare and engineering and computing. As already noted from another source, whether a person is learning their first or second language is no small factor and indeed many people learning a second language are not children still in their formative stages of growth as a human. It goes against the grain of teachers and educators to not correct someone when a student is obviously saying or writing something incorrectly in the intended language but many counter that explicit and immediate correction is actually harmful. One potential alternative would come along more when writing a term paper or something of that nature. Rather than fixate and analyze grammar as the paper is being written, it is asserted by many that going back through the paper after the initial draft is the wiser course as the rough draft is complete at that point and this is the best time to assess how to fix and structure things differently than they already are in addition to correcting mistakes. Doing the grammar review prematurely can lead to material being proofread that is just going to be changed or cut out anyway, is the salient point to take from this suggested alternative method. Along those same lines, another perspective is that composing a piece of writing is a part of the process of discovering meaning and disrupting that with grammar analysis can prevent the thoughts from flowing smoothly and uniformly. All of the starting and stopping that would ensue due to correction of errors or even general restructuring for flow and other reasons can lead to a disruption of the creative thought process and thus is counterproductive (Shin).
In terms of task complexity and when the proper timing is to do error correction is something that comes out of the woodwork in other avenues and arenas as well. When looking at the precise points in which students tend to make corrections, there are some major variances depending on the complexity of the idea as well as the complexity of the sentences themselves irrespective of what is being written about. The complexity of the errors themselves also had an effect. Smaller errors were almost always fixed right as they were written and immediately spotted.
More protracted errors made it much more likely for people to circle back after the sentence or paragraph was completed. These tidbits lend themselves to the idea of keeping major error corrections until the end or at least until a good stopping point rather than stopping the writing process as soon as they are spotted. It has also been found to be true quite commonly that many writers indeed do choose to forgo a good and thorough proofreading until the paper is at least in rough draft form. In general, it is deemed to be wise to disregard proofreading mid-composition as anything that takes away from the writing process in terms of content is going to be disruptive and a proofreading of the document should always be done after the draft is otherwise ready anyway. This way, it is only being done once (at the end) and the process of putting pen to paper, proverbial or electronic, is left as intact as possible. Also relevant are the internal and external forces that guide whether and when people proofread as they go along. To be sure, if more than one person is privy to a document being drafted, then corrections will probably be seen as more urgent than keeping a stream of consciousness or idea going. It is an area of research that is not covered all that heavily, at least per some researchers that themselves look at the topic, so it remains to be seen what the long-term research and ensuing effects will be and how they will render themselves (van Waes, and Leijten, and Quinlan).
The types of errors that are prevalent will obviously differ greatly and this thus would have an effect on what the focus of a teacher or grammar self-checker would need to focus on when looking for grammatical errors. For example, people learning English when they do not know any other language will make a decent amount of errors across the board. However, English as a Second Language (ESL) learners are worst about putting prepositions and articles in the wrong place or they omit them entirely when they should be present. It is estimated that ESL learners make anywhere from twenty to fifty percent of their mistakes on just those two things. For example, instead of saying "I saw a cat walking down the street," they might instead say "I saw cat walking down the street," with the obvious missing word being the article "a." Similarly, they might start a sentence with a preposition even though that is not proper grammar. Complicating the matter greatly is that English, while not the most complicated language in the world as many Indian and African languages are exceedingly more complex, is not an easy language to learn due in large part to its conflicting rules and conventions and its…
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